Cramped and dirty: The SPCA believes that regulations need to be put in place to provide guidance and restrictions on the kind of environment animals should be kept in. *Photo supplied
Cramped and dirty: The SPCA believes that regulations need to be put in place to provide guidance and restrictions on the kind of environment animals should be kept in. *Photo supplied
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Scores of animals are being kept in inappropriate living conditions because the rules governing how they are homed are “vague and inadequate”.

Dr Andrew Madeiros, chairman of the SPCA, says the shelter deals with a stream of reports where rabbits, goats, chickens and ducks are housed in cramped and dirty conditions but cannot act because it does not constitute “cruelty”.

Mr Madeiros told the Bermuda Sun regulations controlling numbers as well as how these kinds of animals were kept was desperately needed.

He said: “At present there is nothing to stop people keeping ponies or cows in their back yard.

“So long as they have food, water and shelter — the fact that they live in completely inadequate conditions is irrelevant.

“The trouble is when a person gets one animal they then get another and before you know it they have a bunch of them.

“We get constant complaints from members of the public who say they have stumbled across properties where animals like rabbits, chickens, goats or even ponies are being housed in bad conditions.

“We try and look into each complaint but there is not much we can do unless it can be classified as a cruelty case.

No laws

“But there are no laws or regulations to say how many pigs or how many rabbits you can have on your property or how much space they should have.”

Just earlier this month SPCA staff descended on a government property in Pembroke after receiving reports from concerned members of the public about the condition of a collection of rabbits, pigs and other animals.

They seized a rabbit with severe ear mites and have been nursing her back to health for the last few weeks.

The charity is looking to re-home the rabbit, which has been named Shukura.

Dr Madeiros added: “This type of thing can happen on government land which has been leased out to a caretaker or an individual or on private land.

“There are some repeat offenders that we are called out to over and over again over concerns about animals.

“Often the landlord has no idea what has been done to the property or how many animals are on it.

“It may start off as just one goat or a cow and then this just keeps growing until you have a dozen animals on a site that is inappropriate for their needs.

“There does not seem to be anyone monitoring these properties and what goes on there.

“We see a lot of rabbits that have just been left in poorly kept hutches and have developed ear mites. There is a huge grey area that exists in Bermuda.

“The SPCA believes there should be regulations in place to provide guidance and restrictions on the kind of environment farm animals and rabbits should be kept in.

“Around 90 per cent of our complaints involve animals being kept in inappropriate conditions.

“I would say there are more than a hundred animals out there in bad situations that we have not discovered. There are dozens that we know about and monitor regularly.

Frustration

“Often we go back to a property again after providing guidance and advice and nothing is done.

“It’s a revolving door of treatment for the animals which in turn costs thousands of dollars.

“It seems like an endless stream and it is frustrating to deal with.”

Government vet Dr Jonathon Nesbitt confirmed that there was no specific legislation detailing how animals such as rabbits, goats and cows should be kept.

But he said that imposing specific regulations for each species would be impractical.

Dr Nesbitt added: “Although there are no regulations to say what adequate housing for these animals is the law does address issues like odours and control of rodents so keeping these animals does not cause problems to neighbours.

“Obviously these animals should have appropriate space to move around in and food, water and shelter and there is effective legislation to prevent cruelty.

“But I do not believe that animals living in inappropriate conditions is a wide problem in Bermuda.

“There are areas which are hot beds but not a lot.

“I do not believe tighter regulation would be the answer — this area would be so difficult to regulate.”